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Postponing the Past: An Operational Analysis of Delayed-Choice Experiments


The prominent characteristic of a delayed-choice effect is to make the choice between complementary types of phenomena after the relevant interaction between the system and measuring instrument has already come to an end. In this paper, we first represent a detailed comparative analysis of some early delayed-choice propositions and also most of the experimentally performed delayed-choice proposals in a coherent and unified quantum mechanical formulation. Taking into the account the represented quantum mechanical descriptions and also the rules of probability theory, we discuss that there are two fundamentally different descriptions concerning the physical mechanism of the delayed-choice between the complementary types of phenomena in these experiments. In this regard, we finally conclude that the delayed-choice experiments can be classified into two main groups where the temporal aspect of each group is characterized differently within their probabilistic descriptions.

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Correspondence to A. Shafiee.

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Bahrami, M., Shafiee, A. Postponing the Past: An Operational Analysis of Delayed-Choice Experiments. Found Phys 40, 55 (2010).

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  • Delayed-choice
  • Interference
  • Complementary phenomena